First Person

Fertility is a Journey. Here’s Mine.

Couple Holding Hands
PHOTO BY ISTOCK

For the past seven years, my husband Mike and I have been trying to conceive a child. Both coming from large families of five and four siblings, we were naïve in thinking it would be “in our genes” or easy to do because our parents had no issues with creating a family. Our plan was an excited one of “ok, let’s do this!” to one of “why is this happening to us?”

Infertility isn’t something anyone wants to hear, whether it’s a man or a woman. It is human nature; it’s been happening naturally for thousands of years. Weren’t we made to do this if we chose to do so? The one thing that didn’t feel natural though was my inability to become a mother myself. My infertility story is one that I want to share to potentially help other women and couples out there who are struggling with it or just don’t know how to talk about it. It is a sensitive topic that needs to be openly and comfortably talked about and shared.

To be clear, infertility is not one sided. It is a misconception that is has to always be the woman’s issue, because in our story it was both of us. After a frustrating two years of trying with less invasive methods, and there are many, our family physician and my gynecologist referred us to a fertility clinic in Syracuse. This was the start of our real journey. Fast forward five years, I have changed our fertility clinic, had three failed IUIs, two egg retrievals through the IVF process, one unsuccessful transfer, and currently have five frozen embryos. Not to mention the hundreds of times I have been poked with needles and sonograms.

We are currently at Boston IVF in Syracuse. We planted our flag here where we are surrounded by an amazing team and doctor. That was easy to type out, but the behind-the-scenes work is where the difficulty and courage lies. Countless self-administered shots and medications accompanied by a roller coaster ride of emotional highs, very highs, lows, and very very lows. Not to mention the costs associated with the treatment of infertility. I quickly realized that this was my mountain, my journey, and what Mike and I needed to do in order to reach our ultimate goal of bringing a child into this world wouldn’t stop us. We committed to the process, to making it work. As you are reading this, I will have had an embryo transfer at the end of October.

In this article, I will share some tips I have learned along the way that will provide guidance, comfort, and encouragement to those who need it – or to those who just need to see that infertility is not taboo, not too uncommon, and it’s “ok” to talk about. It is more common than one may think. Infertility is an extreme challenge for a woman, and she (and her spouse or partner) sometimes don’t know how to cope with it or who to talk to about it besides the medical professionals who are needed for the process. It is a journey, and we all have a story to tell and share so others don’t feel alone or “not normal.”

Here are some tips I have learned along the way:

1. Find a clinic that is right for you. This is your process, and you need to feel comfortable and confident with the medical team. They will be the backbone and structure to your process. Always get a second opinion, and know that it is important to go with how you feel about the clinic – not others’ opinions.

2. Find a support system. This is by far the most important tip. Do not isolate yourself, even if it seems to be the only option. I’m telling you, it’s not. You will need someone to talk to, period, whether it’s a professional, family and friends, or a journal. Know this: You cannot set expectations on anyone but yourself, and you may find that some friends don’t show up for you. That’s ok. Don’t let it affect you though it may hurt. My advice on this is to keep your mind on the process, and be happy with the friends who are supporting you and love on them too. I have a handful of close girlfriends and family that have been my rock, support, and ears on everything we are going through.

3. Don’t forget about your partner. Whether it be your significant other or otherwise, it is imperative you support them too. Yes, if you are the one having to do the invasive procedures, all the medicines, and the day-to-day maintenance, it can feel one sided, but never forget to ask how the other is doing. Each person has their own version of this journey.

4. Have a work-life balance. Create a schedule for yourself; you will find that you have time for both. Your professional career and going through the infertility journey don’t have to be a struggle. It can work out and run smoothly if you set time aside for these few tips and make your schedule your schedule. You will have a lot of doctor appointments along with the procedures to plan for, so keep a written or digital calendar and share it with your partner. There are many successful businesswomen out there who are also mothers. We can do this!

5. Self-care, self-love. You are beautiful and worthy of having a child. Regardless of the outcome you have, you are wonderfully made. Take time and put in calendar dates to take care of you. It may be a half an hour laying down with your eyes shut to meditate, a simple walk outside, or a weekend getaway. Do what makes you happy. You don’t need to attend every party or invite to an event. Remember that there is a lot you can be thankful for in these difficult times. Take care of you first; it’s crucial to the well-being of the process you are going through. You are worth it!

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